Come together and help each other!
That was the advice of Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education with special responsibility to private schools, Senator Harry Husbands, to owners of private schools in Barbados.
As part of his week-long tour of private education institutions, Husbands visited the Metropolitan High School on Roebuck Street in the City this morning. Speaking with the media after a tour of the facility he said: “Private educational providers, whether at primary or secondary level, should form themselves into an organisation that can be used† for the purpose of discussion with Government, lobbying Government.”
The former educator added that his Government, through the Ministry of Education needed to have a section within the same ministry that was, if not wholly, partially dedicated to looking after the interests and concerns of people in private education sectors.
“One cannot leave here without full recognition of the role the [Metropolitan High School] has played in educational development of Barbados. Mr. [Olivier] Cox is an icon in the history of education,” he said.
“The current situation is difficult… One of the things that I am interested in is how do we bring and encourage greater private education in Barbados? On one hand, it is some of the older schools that are closing, but if you notice institutions like Codrington High, Providence … it is not a one dimensional picture.
“There are schools with challenges, but there are some new ones, some outstanding [ones] so it is a varied picture.”
He added: “I believe one of the things we must be able to focus on is how we make Barbados into a centre for private education. Based on my experience in immigration I know that there are lots of people overseas, in developed countries, who want to send their children to primary and secondary education in Barbados.”
Husbands’ suggestions came in the wake of principal and founder of the school, Olivier Cox’s concerns that private secondary schools in the island were dying. Similar to comments made earlier this week by principal of the Unique High School, Monica Crawford, who spoke about a declining student roll at her institution, Cox also stated his numbers too have declined significantly.
Once with a roll of 800 students, the school now caters to a mere 84 pupils at the secondary level and 23†at the nursery.
“The old scholars came and they tried to see what they could do, but I suppose we have to accept facts – the private secondary schools are on the way out. If we did not purchase these buildings we would have to close because of the state of the depression,” he said as he noted Government subventions remained the same as when they first opened in 1956.
The tours continue tomorrow with Husbands scheduled to visit the St. Winifred’s School on Pine Hill Road, St. Michael. (KC)†††